Imagine it’s 1958. You’re in Toluca Lake, California, enjoying breakfast at the brand-new International House of Pancakes. One look at the menu and your head is spinning: Should you order the Persian pancake? The Tahitian Orange-Pineapple? The Kauai Coconut? Or stick with an ordinary American flapjack? The menu at the International House of Pancakes was a creation of a French chef who’d been hired by proprietors Al and Jerry Lapin to come up with a menu of 21 “pancakes from around the world.” (Authenticity was, apparently, not an issue.)
As the restaurant transformed into the 475-restaurant IHOP chain, it experienced the usual growing pains: The more contrived pancakes disappeared (R.I.P., Persian pancake, whatever you were). Among those with staying power was the Swedish pancake. The thin, delicate pancakes came to America with Swedish immigrants, but somewhere along the way, the custom of eating them on Thursday evenings after the traditional dinner of pea soup disappeared.
MAKE IT NOW: Our recipe for Swedish Pancakes is free through November 5, 2013.